Michael Beard is in his late fifties; bald, overweight, unprepossessing — a Nobel Prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions and half-heartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global warming. An inveterate philanderer, Beard finds his fifth marriage floundering. But this time it is different: she is having the affair, and he is still in love with her.
When Beard's professional and personal worlds are entwined in a freak accident, an opportunity presents itself, a chance for Beard to extricate himself from his marital mess, reinvigorate his career and very possibly save the world from environmental disaster.
With a global scope, Solar is a comedy dealing directly with the crises of today. A story of one man's ambitions and self-deceptions, it is a startling and stylish new departure in the work of one of the world's great writers.
From the Hardcover edition.
READ AN EXCERPT
1. Beard loves physics in part because he believes that it is "free of human taint" (p.10). In what ways does the novel complicate this belief? In what sense is Beard's own work "tainted" by human entanglements?
2. The narrative structure of Solar is mostly chronological. What effects does McEwan achieve by...
A Globe and Mail Best Book
A New York Times Notable Book
An O: The Oprah Magazine Great Read
Winner – Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction 2010
"Scarcely a page fails to dazzle with some wittily caught perception about contemporary life. Blazing with imagination and intellectual energy, Solar is a stellar performance."
—Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times
"McEwan at his best. Intelligent, funny, and full of insights."
"A stunningly accomplished work, possibly his best yet."
"Solar burns with wit and energy. It demonstrates why McEwan is among the language's most popular literary novelists."
—Winnipeg Free Press
"In Atonement or Enduring Love or Amsterdam or Saturday or pretty much any of his novels, Solar has many adept competitors for best of breed, and those competitors are beloved. But this may be his best work yet."
—The Star Phoenix